Doggy Business: Puppy Perspectives of Academic Departments
Another day at the office. Fido the yellow lab saunters over to the plush blue mat he occupies in the corner of the geography office. Flops down. Contemplates all of his toys. They are strewn every which way — into data analysis, nonprofit work, urban planning, policy, international development, service-oriented work, product design and even academia. Which ones to play with today? There’s a map up on the wall but he does not know any of the capitals. Perhaps instead he could teach himself the country capitals; yes, he has been meaning to do that for some time now. The humans walk in and out and talk and laugh. Fido can only listen to their chatter for so long. They talk and talk and talk about global problems — but never seem to talk about policy solutions.
Terry the mutt stretches back against the windowpane in the warm office of an earth sciences professor. Branches dripping with snow wave in the air behind him, against a backdrop of sky bluer-than-blue. He — and the owner’s desk — is pressed as close to the window as can be, short of just leaning out and reaching to embrace the tree. His bored gaze spans the room. He takes in the bookshelves in their tilted disarray, the desk with its scattered papers of coffee-stain rings, the bizarre assortment of stickers and comics and photos pasted up on the wall … all those photos of the Stretch. And owner messed up the colors again, Terry notes. Those pants and that shirt certainly don’t match. And he really should get a haircut. Oh well; at least no one but the squirrels will see when they go on their afternoon hike. That’s not too embarrassing.
Little Fluffy is the star of the show. He fits right in with all the doohickeys and thingamajigs lying around the DALI Lab. He camouflages in. And boy does he love to play with those toys. The students love to play with him, too — they pick him up and toss him around a lot, just like they do with ideas. Nothing is too crazy; nothing is too out of the box. They let their imaginations run wild when they play with Fluffy. Fluffy loves this. He loves the days he spends in the lab. Everything is free, everything is shared. There is tea, and coffee, and a fridge, and a dishwasher … But mostly, Fluffy just enjoys running in between all of the legs at those standing desks. He plays a game to guess who is going to get tired, and sit down, first. Maybe he should design an app for that.
Leika is still a puppy, but she sure acts the sage. She struts around Thayer with an unparalleled air of regality. Her fur is in place; her gaze is level and direct. This gaze conveys such deep and intrinsic understanding of the conversations of the engineers in and around the office … But, show her her tail and her behavior, frankly, suggests otherwise. This side of her, though, she does not have much time for; there is too much to be done. She has the integrity of her owner’s profession to preserve: for (Leika must not be the only one to notice this) she is an exception amongst an engineering faculty consisting of overgrown schoolboys with grey hair hanging in their eyes, who enjoy Legos and tools. This, now, is not a task to be taken lightly. The puppy may still be there in her, but it can wait until that fifth-year bachelor’s of engineering degree is complete. She is happy to sit in Couch Lab all the way until then.
Thera is a white labradoodle with black smudges. The black smudges, though, are not her own. She emerges from the recesses of the Black Family Visual Arts Center every afternoon in a cloud of charcoal dust. Smudges of charcoal are on the pair of pants and clogs walking beside her and the pair of hands holding her leash as well. Thera walks slowly, considerately, because her pull on the leash has to be balanced against a homemade ceramic sloshing with that evening coffee. Her mind is on something else, anyways: her mind is on the futures of her human artists. She considers how she might be able to wangle the chance — pull some puppy eyes — for their artistic debuts. Hair of the walking pair is in every which direction; eyes are glazed over with that screen of lost imagination. Are person and dog even of this world? They walk together, but separately, into the unknown. Or just into the Hop for some food, and then back into BVAC to stay late finishing that art project.
The Tuck office is quite the standard affair, Tatiana remarks to herself every day. The desk faces the wall and has the window to the left — good, diffuse lighting; not too much distraction. Pragmatic. High bookshelves line the wall behind the desk chair. They are filled with neatly stood books and picture frames and trophies — as if to say, “Yes, these are my accomplishments, admire them, but they are in my past; I am looking to the future, and to all the accomplishments to come.” The books on the shelf are straight, the back in the chair is straight, the stacks of paper on the desk are straight. Everything is prim, proper and in order. Tatiana the poodle fulfills her duty and is prim, proper and in order. This is why she is allowed in the Tuck building. Though — wait. She tilts her head thoughtfully at the potted plants hanging from the window sash. The long, pointed tendrils have grown rather long. They cascade down the windowpane, fall even below the sill, almost to the ground … But no. This is not a successful aberration. It is no more than a suggestion — a sniff — of the savagery that may exist beyond these four walls. Tatiana puts her nose back on her paws.
The dogs portrayed in this piece are fictitious. No identification with actual dogs (living or deceased) is intended or should be inferred.